Duffel Bags for the Homeless: A Care Package and Carrier All-in-One

More than half a million people are homeless on any given day in America, living on the streets without a roof over their heads or a bed of their own. They often carry all their possessions in a paper sack, a dirty old pillowcase or a plastic trash bag – or they commandeer a shopping cart to hold everything they own.

Duffel Bags for the Homeless: A Care Package and Carrier All-in-One
[image: pexels by timur weber]

Most of the U.S. homeless population are trying to survive within major cities, near the city center, but other homeless people and families are displaced in the suburbs, small towns and rural areas far from the big city lights. 

Some homeless people are addicted to alcohol or drugs and others are mentally ill. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, people with these afflictions actually represent slightly less than half (around 48 percent) of the nation’s homeless, according to reports from multiple organizations who study the homeless, as well as the federal government. 

But what most homeless people in America yearn for is a sense of dignity and an opportunity to reclaim some semblance of their former lives before their situation unravels further.

Reasons for homelessness in the U.S.

A majority of the homeless in America are victims of catastrophic personal or financial circumstances that left them without a permanent address. Others are displaced from their homes for countless reasons.

Among the many reasons that people become homeless in America are:


Mental illness

Alcohol or drug abuse

Physical disability

Unemployment or extremely low income

Lack of affordable housing

Eviction from previous housing

Bankruptcy or medical bills

Lack of mental health or addiction treatment services

Fire, flood, tornado, hurricane or other natural disaster

Victims of domestic violence

A whiff of good news: the federal government’s most recent estimate (2020) is that were slightly more than 550,000 homeless Americans, a decline of about 15 percent nationally from the all-time 21st century highs of nearly 650,000 homeless people in the U.S. just before, during and after the Great Recession of 2008.

Needs of America’s homeless

Many organizations to assist the homeless and other distressed people have been established throughout the country and some of them have been helping people in need for more than a century. Others pop up all across the nation each year as the need arises.

Organizations and charities that assist the homeless and other unfortunate individuals in America have managed to help decrease the national number of homeless people over the past decade or so by about 100,000.

Organizations that operate homeless shelters and provide assistance to displaced people across the country have compiled a list of the items most requested by individuals who stay in homeless shelters and they are, in no particular order:

Socks and underwear

Water bottles and fresh, clean water

Toothbrushes and toothpaste

Toiletries and wet wipes

Blankets and towels

Coats, hats and gloves for winter weather

Food, snacks and resealable plastic bags

Gift cards for stores and restaurants

Duffel bags to hold personal belongings

Ways to help America’s homeless

Organizations in major cities across the U.S. have been established to help the homeless overcome their addictions, manage their disabilities, learn job skills and lead more productive lives that can provide a roof over their heads.

One way for individual citizens concerned about the homeless and desire to help them that is growing in popularity is by providing them with items on their wish list. 

A duffel bag is an example of an item that the homeless need, will appreciate and will use on a daily basis. No more paper sacks, dirty pillowcases or plastic trash bags! Few people will appreciate a spacious new duffel bag more than a homeless person.

Traditionally an item used by members of the military when traveling, by people who participate in sports to hold and transport their equipment, or by vacationers with lots of gear, duffel bags are made of sturdy materials that stand up to the elements and everyday wear-and-tear for years and years. 

A duffel bag’s rip-resistant material is made of thick canvas, leather, or strong synthetic material such as reinforced parachute cloth. A duffel bag’s roomy, open interior structure and flexibility allows for adaptability, as well as the ability for homeless people to carry their belongings safely and securely. 

And these days, duffel bags come a wide array of sizes, colors and styles and with helpful features, too, including end, side and interior pockets. Simply put, duffel bags make life easier for their users, whether they are soldiers, athletes, vacationers or homeless people.

Blessings in a Bag

Organizations who assist homeless people have increasingly recognized the importance of duffel bags as a necessary item after seeing the other impermanent types of sacks people use to hold their belongings. 

Some organizations working to help the homeless purchase a large quantity of duffel bags in bulk for distribution to local homeless people. One charity operation in Bradenton, Florida stuffs duffel bags with more than a dozen of the most-requested items and has dubbed them “Blessing Bags” when issuing them to thankful homeless people, combining a care package and a carrier, all-in-one.

A duffel bag can be a godsend for a homeless person. Simply having the ability to organize all their belongings neatly in a clean, dry, weatherproof container with zippered compartments can improve a homeless person’s outlook and disposition.

Freshly laundered and folded clothes can be protected from stains and wrinkles. Liquids can be isolated from dry items to avoid damage from leaks. Healthcare items and medicines can be secured in zippered interior pockets. Food can be stored separately from socks and shave cream. For kids, clothes, toys, snacks and homework can be stowed safely and easily, providing peace of mind and easy access.

Empowering the homeless with duffel bags

Homeless people struggling to get back on their feet need a way to keep the few personal belongings they have safe, secure and handy. A gift of a new duffel bag can empower a homeless person to conquer new horizons by helping them stay organized and confident as they improve their life.

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